“One of the reasons guests love shopping at Target is because of our focus on style and our ability to deliver that style at incredibly affordable prices,” Jill Sando, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Target, said in a statement. “Our newest collaboration with Kika Vargas, La Ligne and Sergio Hudson is a celebration of style and we know our guests will love this collection of trend-forward pieces that reflect each designer’s distinct, diverse perspective on fashion.”
Fall Designer Collection consists of more than 100 pieces across apparel and accessories from the three brands. Items include matching sets, dresses, sweaters, jackets, skirts, bags, jewelry and sunglasses, priced between $8 and $70 each. Sizes range from 2XS to 4XL, and will be available at target.com and select Target stores, starting Oct. 9, while supplies last.
But Target’s sense of style extends beyond the limited-time partnerships. This is the second year the company has created a Fall Designer Collection — and more than two decades since the retailer began collaborating with both new and emerging designers and brands for its annual designer dress collections at Target prices. Previous partners include LoveShackFancy, Cushnie, Lisa Marie Fernandez, Zac Posen, Anna Sui, Rodarte, Missoni, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu, Lilly Pulitzer, Christopher John Rogers, Alexis and Rixo.
“The goal is to introduce guests to a rotating roster of notable style influencers through trend-forward assortments — all at a great value,” Sando told WWD earlier this month. “Each partner will share their unique style and point of view in fashion, offering exciting new collections and fashion aesthetics that will encourage guests to explore and celebrate their individual style.”
Target’s latest inventory of designers is equally as diverse. Take Kika Vargas, who hails from South America and created her nameplate brand in 2018.
“Being in Colombia and based in Colombia can feel a bit far from the fashion industry core,” Vargas explained to WWD. “So these kinds of opportunities are just an amazing way of shining light to the brand and to the country and to Latin designers in Colombia.”
Designer Sergio Hudson, who launched his luxury women’s ready-to-wear brand in 2016, said he was equally honored to be approached by Target and said he “learned a lot about sustainability and just what you can actually do with this price point. It was shocking to me. Just take the [faux] fur coat, for example. I never thought they were going to be able to do that.”
He added that he was inspired to create an affordable collection for “people who can’t afford to buy a $3,000 dress. I wanted to give them something. Of course, we all as designers inspire to reach a broader demographic. But I’m early in the brand. I felt like the collaboration with Target gave us the opportunity to do that in a small way.”
La Ligne — which was created by Valerie Macaulay and Meredith Melling, former Vogue magazine editors, and Molly Howard, a former investment banker in 2016 — means “the line” in French.
“It’s a more European take to the stripes,” Melling explained. “To be slightly more sophisticated, but also to be slightly more nuanced, what a stripe could actually be. Not just your classic frontal [stripe], but a fuzzy stripe, or a stitch stripe, or a braided stripe, [or] a colorblock stripe.”
Macaulay added: “We were really excited to have that opportunity to bring what we do on a day-to-day basis to such a large audience with Target.
The rotating list of designer partners is just one element of Target’s larger strategy to establish itself as a fashion destination.
Target also carries a growing list of national brands (some of them exclusively) in its stores and online, including Levi’s Red Tab, lingerie brand Journelle, period-panties brand Thinx, Priyanka Chopra’s hair care brand Anomaly, the Houston White x Target menswear collection and home goods brand Opalhouse, which was codesigned with Jungalow brand founder and designer. That’s in addition to Ulta Beauty, Disney and Apple shops-in-shop in select stores.
The mass merchant also has 18 of its owned apparel brands, the most recent of which — Future Collective, which also has a rotating style partner — launched earlier this month. Ten of its owned brands are billion-dollar brands, including women’s activewear brand All in Motion.
“As we continue to invest in our style category and evolve our assortment, we recognize the importance of offering diverse and differentiated brands with a variety of aesthetics to serve all guests,” Sando told WWD earlier this month. “Incredible design that’s affordable and accessible is a key component across our total portfolio and why guests love shopping at Target. Our guests crave newness across many categories at Target, especially in fashion and continue to look to Target for amazing style at an equally amazing value.”
Still, Target is not immune to macro headwinds plaguing much of the retail industry, including price hikes along the supply chain, excess inventory from consumers’ rapidly changing shopping patterns and some shoppers pulling back on discretionary items because of inflation.
Sales of categories like apparel and home fell in Target’s most recent quarter, leaving the company with roughly $6 billion of excess inventory, compared with pre-pandemic levels.
There’s also growing competition from the likes of mass merchant rival Walmart, which is also working to establish its fashion relevancy. Like Target, Walmart sells both owned and national fashion brands. Most recently, Walmart rolled out be-your-own model capabilities on its app. Also like Target, Walmart’s revenues in apparel, home and electronic categories fell in the most recent quarter, which led to excess inventory and increased markdowns.